NH Senate Approves 'Joshua's Law'

The bill is named after Joshua Savyon of Amherst, who was killed by his father at the YWCA in Manchester.

Joshua Savyon. Patch file photo.
Joshua Savyon. Patch file photo.
The New Hampshire Senate voted 24-0 on Thursday to approve Senate Bill 318. The bill, known as "Joshua's Law," establishes a crime of domestic violence in New Hampshire.

"Joshua’s Law" is named after Joshua Savyon of Amherst, who was killed by his father at the YWCA in Manchester last year. His mother, Becky Ranes, asked Senator Donna Soucy of Manchester to name this law after Joshua as a way to honor him by helping other families exposed to domestic violence. Ranes was in the gallery for Thursday's Senate vote.

"Joshua’s Law takes existing criminal charges commonly charged in domestic violence cases, brings them under the umbrella of one crime, and labels it what it actually is: domestic violence," Soucy said in a statement Thursday. "Police and prosecutors believe the paper trail this creates would help to identify and stop repeat abusers."

New Hampshire is one of only 15 states that do not have a crime of domestic violence.

"Joshua’s mother told me that she never recognized the signs of domestic violence in her own relationship with Joshua’s father, who killed himself after killing their son," Soucy said. "This law would not only shed more light on the issue of domestic violence, but it also would assist others in getting services and protections earlier in the process."

"This legislation is long overdue in New Hampshire," added Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sharon Carson. "While there is nothing we can do to undo this tragedy, this law will ensure that those we ask to protect victims of domestic violence have the tools they need to prosecute these crimes effectively, and to track and identify trends that can help law enforcement to better address this problem across the state."

Gov. Maggie Hassan also issued a statement, calling the bill's passage "a common-sense step" that will improve the safety of New Hampshire's families by helping law enforcement and prosecutors better identify and stop repeat abusers.

"Nothing can assuage the pain caused by the tragic murder of Joshua Savyon, but passing this bill in his memory will strengthen our communities and help countless families," Hassan added. "I thank Senator Soucy for her leadership in this effort and the entire Senate for their unanimous support of Joshua’s Law, and I encourage the House to join their colleagues in passing this critical public safety measure."

"Joshua’s Law" is supported by chiefs of police, county sheriffs and attorneys, the Attorney General, and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The bill now goes on to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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